Volume 8, Number 32 -- September 9, 2008

HarrisData's 'Customer Zone' Written in PHP

Published: September 9, 2008

by Alex Woodie

HarrisData recently launched a new customer-focused Web site that's aimed at helping its i OS ERP customers--as well as the CRM customers of a subsidiary--voice their concerns and get answers to their questions. The site, called the Customer Zone, is based on open source applications for a Web-based forum and wikis written in PHP, and runs on one of HarrisData's System i servers.

Like most commercial software companies, HarrisData has provided online resources dedicated to assisting its estimated 2,500 customers, who are predominantly mid size companies in the manufacturing and distribution industries. The first-generation Customer Zone was effective at publishing content to customers and partners.

However, it lacked the capability for two-way communication with its customers or partners, or for its customers or partners to collaborate independently. That was the impetus behind the creation of a new Customer Zone, which the Brookfield, Wisconsin, company announced a month ago.

The new Customer Zone is actually four separate entities, including: a self-service area where customers can request support; an education portal that holds technical documentation and other training materials; the Community Zone, a bulletin board where users can voice their opinions about HarrisData and its products; and the hdWiki, which is aimed at providing "pragmatic information about how best to use HarrisData software."

The new Web site is based on modified open source PHP-based wiki and forum applications, which made it easy to roll out quickly on the System i platform, says HarrisData president Lane Nelson. "The availability of applications such as bulletin boards and wikis on the IBM i platform was critical in our ability to deliver the new functionality quickly and cost effectively," Nelson stated in a press release.

HarrisData's decision to go with PHP on the System i represents "a strong indication of its commitment to providing a leading edge environment for its customers," says Steve Biondi, vice president of midmarket business systems for IBM.

The CustomerZone is available for us by HarrisData's customers, as well as customers of RTI Software, a subsidiary of HarrisData that develops CRM software for small and mid size business. The company, which is based in Lisle, Illinois, develops CRM that runs on the major database systems, including SQL Server, Oracle, and DB2 UDB.


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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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